I seem to know some colorful characters and one of my favorites is Ellen, our Forever Fit aerobics instructor at my gym. She’s ten years younger than me, a former nurse, a twin, originally from Pennsylvania, married to an ex-Coast Guard guy, and she has two grown children and lots and lots of dogs. She also picks up strays — not dogs, but people. She’s an angel in disguise who’s always trying to help someone in need.
She’s also a true comedian and our class is grateful for that. Who doesn’t want to laugh instead of cry when you’re doing all those cray-cray (crazy) moves like the rocking horse, the grapevine, X-step, Y-step, L-step, ski, the basic, mamba, cross-over, walk on the curb and jumping jacks (low-level). And that’s not even HALF of the moves she forces us to endure. Ellen occasionally throws in some yoga and Pilates. The class is an hour and we always do weights at the end, before our final cool down and stretching.
There’s about forty of us that attend regularly, all women except for two brave — very brave, I might add — men named Grant and Dana. We’ve gotten so close over the four years I’ve been there that we even have a yearly Christmas luncheon which yours truly — I’m the self-nominated social chairperson — (imagine that) arranges.
We’ve learned a lot about Ellen and her family over the years, but my favorite stories involve Ed, her husband. From what I hear he is about as patient as Russell — NOT! But like Russell, he sometimes needs strong motivation to do the things that we wives really, really want done. And when he doesn’t, well, she pouts.
She told us today as we sweated, moaned, frowned and panted, that she and Ed rarely fight. In fact, she said they’ve never really fought in thirty-one years of marriage. That doesn’t mean they don’t have disagreements. When this happens and she’s perturbed, she said she does sneaky little things, (which really surprised me because Ellen is so dang sweet and perfect in every way — you know the type) like fold Ed’s undershirts inside out when she’s doing the laundry. Also she’ll either ball up his socks inside out or she’ll ball up two that don’t match. I do this too, but not on purpose. She also irons his dress shirts with creases in the wrong places. Yes, she does.
We also get lessons in anatomy and though she’s correct 99% of the time, today she told us to pull out our mats and lay down for the final floor exercises. Then we laid on our side, raising up our upper body from the waist, while perched on our elbow. We’ve done this “move” before, so we just followed suit. But then she said, “Okay, now touch your knee to your ankle.” She meant to say, “Touch your knee to your other knee.” I know this is hard to picture, but trust me, it won’t work. I also love it when she says right and she means left. At that point she usually says, “I mean the other right.”
Ellen is like me in that there is no filter between her brain and her mouth. One time I walked into class a couple of minutes late and she blurted out, “Oh, Ann! You washed your hair!” I was stunned. My jaw dropped. Everyone roared laughing! She explained afterwards that she realized I had a new hair-style, but for some reason, that’s not what came out of her mouth.
Our group is so close and so good-hearted that we’ve had people bring in passalong plants to give away; fresh figs right off the tree because they had a bumper crop and local honey for sale — dirt cheap — pardon the pun, from a local bee-farmer. We’ve supported worthy causes over the years. And we’ve sent cards signed by our entire class to anyone who’s been ill, had surgery, lost a loved one or is going through a tough time.
Speaking of a tough time, I recently missed almost six weeks of class due to a horrific case of bronchitis and a head cold, which boomeranged. I’ve heard about lots of people who’ve had the same thing this winter. Bless their hearts, the poor things! I’d been feeling so frustrated, lethargic and down in the dumps.
I tried for two weeks to go to the gym, but at the last moment would have a coughing attack and cancel.
But today I walked in and was greeted with so many smiles and hugs, followed by, “Good to see you!”, “So glad you’re back!” and “We sure missed you!” that I’ve decided that’s the best medicine of all. If the exercise in this class is really good for you (and I know it is), let me just say the camaraderie and laughter are even better.
Plus you sometimes even get compliments about your clean hair. Now who doesn’t want that?
Ann Ipock “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” firstname.lastname@example.org www.annipock.com.
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